The worst year for movies?

Such things aren’t quantifiable, of course. But with the Oscars closing in on us, formally putting a close on the “best of 2011” conversation, I’ve been thinking more and more about my selection for the worst film of the year. In my year-end blog, I called 2011 a stationkeeping year. 2009 and 2010 were notable because the cream of their crops were some genuinely awe-inspiring, genre-challenging work (I mean, at this time last year, the conversation was about movies like The Social Network, Black Swan and True Grit, all examples of the kind of filmmaking for which I would readily kill right now, in the midst of all these conversations about The Descendents, The Artist, and even Hugo). The most innovative and challenging film of 2011, Bellflower, has slipped quietly into the wayside, and the remainder of the year was marked for me by a kind of “safe baseball,” of the type catalogued (safely) in Moneyball: get players into scoring position, and forget about the home runs.

For the worst film of 2011, I named Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, but here I was being coy. It’s hardly the worst film of the year, though it could probably take that crown in better years of cinema. Mostly, I just wanted to pound on Rob Marshall again (and again), because I enjoy doing that nearly as much as I despise his directorial toolkit. But to a larger degree, it was because I didn’t want to open up the box on how really awful 2011 was capable of being, in all the end-of-year rush and general not-caring-ness. But by my belated count, there were five films in 2011 that were not only significantly worse than Stranger Tides, but are contenders for my list of the worst films of all time. They were, from best to worst (with links to my reviews):

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A Tale of Two Sparrows

This deserves a second look:

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This was Bex’s Christmas present to me. (I got her a book or something.) She made this herself. This is a crocheted Jack Sparrow, and it takes me completely aback. I posted a photo of this a couple of days after Christmas, in the dead zone where all of social media was either asleep or drunk. Now I’m posting it again. I’ll post it again and again, until I’m satisfied that Bex has received enough “HOLY FUCK”s for her work.

Bex has a particular mission, come Christmastime, and it’s to fill my house with as much pirate-related stuff as she can. A few years back, she got me a rug and a rum jug; she also got me a glass tea mug with “why is the Earl Grey gone?” written on the side in pirate writing. Then there’s my big pirate bowl, which I use to eat Kraft Dinner. If it were up to Bex, the Jack Rackham would fly from every surface in my house.

In this regard, Becca J. Wood (the “J” stands for “JONES”) is doing a better job than I am, myself, of keeping me on mission. As you probably know, 2011 was not the best year of my life, being scattershot with disasters both epic and trite, the tritest of which was certainly that they actually made another Pirates of the Caribbean movie - and it sucked so, so, so hard. No big deal to you, but means a bit to me (kind of like how most of you felt when The Phantom Menace came out), and like I said, that negligible disaster was surely the tritest of the lot, in a year that was run through with fire and apoplexy. I had a hard enough time in 2011 that I didn’t much want to write about it or think about it when the year ended, and have furthermore spent the first weeks of 2012 wandering around in an over-stressed, work-heavy funk, enemies getting stronger and friends getting fewer, back spasming like a short-circuiting Christmas tree. Bex plays Gibbs to my Jack, though, and reminds me to keep to the code.

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The Toy Report: 2011

Being the annual recap of the best toys I bought in the past year.

I was all fixed to post my blah-blah about my new favourite thing ever, when I realized that I’d omitted the customary year-end toy survey, for which the internet is certainly not crying out, but which allows a sense of order to me. And so here they are - the best of my collection, 2011:

#1: Thor - Hot Toys Movie Masterpiece Series, #146

Surprising no one, the big monkey hits the top of the list. Actually I think it was actually on December 31, 2010 that pictures of this started trickling down from Hong Kong, and I was fairly well certain it would be my year-end fave - I even started a piggy bank for it. Yeah: for general toyly awesomeness and turning me into an 8-year-old with a piggy bank again, Thor wins.

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Mamo #235: The Year Keeps Ending, And We Keep Ending With It

Part 2 of our 2011 wrap-up! We look at how the industry fared for the year - not enough money, too much 3-D, and a whole lotta superheroes. Which franchises were born? Which were renewed? Which [cough Green Lantern cough] are dead, dead, dead?

The CAST Awards Podcast 2011

Monday night, Matty Price and I hosted a special roundtable of voters from the CAST Awards, discussing their picks and pans for the best films of 2011. Cinemayhem ensued. Give a listen!

Mamo #234: Caplansky's with Kuplowsky

Happy new year! Mamo gathers on a crystal-clear January morning and looks back on the best and worst of 2011 with special guest star Peter Kuplowsky, from our favourite vantage point in the corner booth at Caplansky’s Deli. Lists abound. What was your favourite film of the year?

The Best Films of 2011

My pick for the best film of the year is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. A sentimental choice, to be sure, but an unavoidable one. For as much as this list is about which films I think are (to whatever degree this is possible) the objective high-water marks for the craft in the year – in which regard DH2 would rank in the top few, regardless – it is also a list of which films meant the most to me and to my year. In this regard, Harry Potter 8 has no competition.

The Potterdammerung takes one last magnificent gamble, playing out its emotional peak on the accrued momentum of not one, not two, but all eight of the movies. It thereby lays plain the grand machinery, and lasting value, of the Harry Potter Film Project: it was a beautiful thing watching these kids grow up and save the world.

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Watch This Instead: The Worst of 2011

In which Team @TheSubstream, including yours truly, holds forth on what sucked assballs for the calendar year 2011 in film.

The technical awards - 2011

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Every year there are a handful of distinctions that don’t really have any place on my Best Films of the Year list, but oughta be mentioned for shits and giggles. In 2011, they were:

Best Jessica Chastain performance: Take Shelter

Best Tom Hiddleston performance: Thor

Best Michael Fassbender performance: Shame

Best gasp-generator: Michael Fassbender’s penis. Who knew Ewan McGregor had such direct competition?

Best adult performance: Michael Shannon in Take Shelter. Kneel before Zod!

Best child performance: It’s clearly Zoe Heran in Tomboy, but 2011 was littered with great kids onscreen, from Gabriel del Castillo Mullaly in Amy George and Asa Butterfield in Hugo, to the entire cast of Super 8 (but especially Elle Fanning’s teeth).

Best dinosaur performance: The plesiosaur in Tree of Life, who inadvertently says in a single shot as much as the film says in total

Best pretzel-logic performance: Helena Bonham Carter playing Emma Watson playing Hermione Granger playing Bellatrix LeStrange

Best movie in which Saorsie Ronan shoots people: Violet + Daisy

Best original score: X-Men: First Class

Best unoriginal score: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ admirable job of pressing CMD-C on their Social Network score for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Best Werner Herzog impression: Hugo Weaving in Captain America

Best line: “Now gimme the damn veggies,” Fast Five

Best merkin: Rooney Mara’s

Best use of 3-D: Hugo

Worst use of 3-D: Pirates of the Caribbean 4

Best lack of 3-D: Mission Impossible 4 / The Dark Knight Rises prologue

Best movie in which our puny human foibles are rendered mute next to the vast uncaring inevitability of the cosmos: Melancholia

Best movie featuring a cast of 15,000 or more: Siddiq Bale: Warriors of the Rainbow

Best performance by an actor under 4 feet tall: Warwick Davis as Griphook in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Speaking of which, best Johnny Depp performance in better than half a decade: The second episode of Life’s Too Short

Best film about old people pissing each other off: Another Year

Best first kiss: Sons of Norway

Best shit-disturbance: the Star Wars blu-ray fracas

Best blu-ray: The Social Network

Best blu-ray I really had no reason to buy on account of how I owned everything on it already: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (extended)

Best scrappy bastards: Oscilloscope Labs

Best film festival: ActionFest

Best bet for 2012: The road goes ever on and on….

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Suck It: Seven.

In which the house is on fire, the Indian is late, and the gender-neutral children have their own thing going on.